MUSICAL INTERLUDE 133 ~
when you have learnt them you can improvise to your heart's
content. But even then, you cannot write them doTm for general
The implications of this basic fact are staggering. Who is the
Indian Mozart ? There is no such person. Who — to make it
easier ... is the Indian Strauss ? You will search in vain.1
Occasionally, if you are lucky, you may hear the name of some
'composer,5 and for a brief moment you are persuaded that at last
you are on the track of a real person, a flesh and blood artist whose
work can be collected and assessed. In, nine cases out of ten you
will find that this v composer' is only a sort of god in diguise, a
mythical creature piping forlornly through the mists of antiquity.
But now and then there seems to be some faint historical evidence
for his existence.
You pursue your inquiries. This is what invariably happens ___
k Is X still alive?'
" Oh no, he died a long time ago. Many, many years ago.'
"Oh. . .in the south* Among the mountains. Beautiful moun-
4 What did he write?'
* Songs. . .many songs.*
* Could I buy any copies of them ? '
* Oh, no ! They are not written down/
e What are the names of the songs ? *
'Oh, they have no names/
'But what are they about ?'
6 Oh, many beautiftil things. They sing of love and God and the
*I see. And who sings them ? "
'Many people. In the villages and on the mountains.*
And that is as near as you •will ever get to establishing the
identity of any Indian composer. As material for an article in the
1 It may be suggested that it is unfair to jndge Indian music by the standards of
Europe. Very well, judge it by the standards of a race which is considered inferior
* 4o the Indian — the negro. There is nothing in Indian music to compare in richness
&mj virility with the negro spirituals. These have been shaped by time into forms
of beanty and permanence ; they will move men's hearts in a thousand years. But
time has done nothing to Indian music ; it has remained fluid, shapeless, and erratic.